A galaxy is such an imposing cosmic structure compared to a planet or a solar system. It’s an entire array of billions of stars, and there could be even more planets there. For instance, if we look at our own Milky Way galaxy, we would need 100,000 years to travel from one edge to another if we were flying at the speed of light.
Unfortunately, traveling at the speed of light is impossible for the moment, but who knows what technology has in store for us all in the not-so-distant future.
But when a galaxy runs out of star-forming gas, it means that it’s “dead” – not able to create new stars anymore. But what tremendous cosmic force could possibly make a galaxy lose its fuel for creating new stars? This has been a major conundrum in astronomy, and scientists now believe that they have found the answer.
Extreme environments in space lead to galaxy quenching
According to Newsweek.com, astronomers may have finally found out the reason behind a galaxy losing its star-forming fuel. With the help of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope, scientists now believe that extreme environments in space are to blame for affecting the gas content of galaxies.
Fifty-one galaxies from the Virgo Cluster were studied for the new research. The galaxy cluster is located 65 million light-years away from our planet. The environment found in that region is so extreme that it’s able to trigger a phenomenon known as galaxy quenching, halting the potential of galaxies to give birth to new stars.
Christine Wilson, a professor at McMaster University, Canada, declared as quoted by Newsweek.com:
There have been a lot of questions over the years on whether and how the cluster environment affects the molecular gas in galaxies, and how exactly those environments may contribute to their deaths,
We still have work to do, but I’m confident VERTICO will allow us to answer these questions once and for all.
A paper presenting the new findings will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.